Welcome to the Police Notebook! Main Menu of Sub-Topic Areas Crime Prevention Information Personal Safety Topics Internet Safety Articles Kid Safety on the Internet Fire Safety Information First-Aid and Health Related Information Drug and Alcohol Abuse Resources Emergency Phone Number Listings Active Police Investigations The Citizen\'s Self-Arrest Form About the OU Police Department News About Features of This Site The Police Notebook\'s LINKS to Other Related Sites Online Forms for Reporting Problems, as for Questions & Requests Cudos We\'ve Received for this Site Text Search of all the Police Notebook Pages The Police Notebook - INDEX Jump to the University of Oklahoma HOME PAGE Restricted Area for OUPD Intranet workstations ONLY Copyright Information, Disclaimers, and other Site Information Click HERE to jump to the Sooner Safety Report




Border-Line Scams are the Real Thing

June 1996
FTC Consumer Alert!

Thousands of Americans are losing money every day to scam artists operating beyond the boundaries of the United States. In many cases, these international crooks are sitting across the border in Canada -- just far enough away from U.S. laws and jurisdiction to reduce the chances that American victims will ever recover their money.

Through telemarketing and print ads, cross-border scam artists offer advance-fee loans, lucrative sounding investment opportunities, and bogus prize promotions.

Foreign lottery ticket resales also lure Americans to buy phony "low-risk" chances in supposed high-stakes lotteries. Victims of these scams not only lose their money, but also risk violating federal law, which generally prohibits playing lotteries by mail or phone.

Cross-border scams seem to be a growth industry. According to the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC), a project of the National Consumer League, British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario now rank 8th, 9th, and 11th among states and provinces as a geographic source of fraudulent telemarketing activity.

Indeed, police in Montreal, Quebec, recently identified more than 200 Canada-based companies that target U.S. residents exclusively. U.S. law enforcement agents say that con artists may be setting up shop in neighboring countries to avoid prosecution under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which has been in effect since Dec. 31, 1995. The law sets operating standards for legitimate telemarketers, spells out stiff penalties for fraudulent ones, and for the first time, gives state law enforcement agents the power to prosecute across state lines.

Although the Federal Trade Commission and state governments have joined forces to present a united front in the fight against telephone fraud by sharing information and resources, consumers still are in the best position to spot -- and stop -- these kinds of scams.

When it comes to identifying cross-border fraud, that can be daunting. The reasons: con artists based in Canada often give a "mail drop" address in a U.S. city. In addition, Canada and most Caribbean island nations use telephone area codes that are integrated with the U.S. phone system and accessible by direct dialing, without long, cumbersome, and obvious foreign "country-codes."

Here's how you can stop telephone fraud, whether it's cross-border or cross-town:

  • Don't fall for a promise. Telephone solicitations that require an up-front fee for advance-fee loans, unidentified investment opportunities or prize promotions are against U.S. law.
  • Ignore offers to buy tickets in a foreign-based lottery, no matter how tempting they are. Except for legitimate state lotteries, it is a violation of U.S. law to purchase lottery tickets by phone or mail.
  • Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Don't tell them to anyone who asks during an unsolicited sales pitch.
  • If you don't recognize a telephone area code, check it out in your telephone directory. Keep this list of Canadian and Caribbean area codes near your telephone book for reference:

604Britsh Columbia809Bermuda,
403Alberta Puerto Rico,
306Saskatchewan Virgin Islands,
204Manitoba and other
807Ontario Caribbean islands
506New Brunswick  

Nova Scotia &
Prince Edward

To report telemarketing fraud, contact your state Attorney General.

For more information about telephone fraud and your rights under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, write to the Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580, or contact the National Fraud Information Center, 1-800-876-7060.

The information on this page is from the FTC Consumer Alerts page, which contains a number of excellent articles on consumer fraud and concerns.

The Police Notebook - Main Menu The Police Notebook - INDEX The Police Notebook - HOME PAGE The Police Notebook - SEARCH Page

The Police Notebook, Copyright © 1997-2004,
the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. All rights reserved.

Sponsor: OU Police Department — Developer: Richard M. Hamilton, OUPD